The exposure in this case is my adult daughter, who is visiting and tested positive for the coronavirus Sunday. She’s isolating in my apartment’s second bedroom, and we’re keeping balcony doors and windows open, and wearing masks during the briefest of encounters when I bring her food and water. Her case is mild to moderate — she’s sleeping a lot and feeling generally lousy. So far, I haven’t caught it, but it will be a week or more before I know for sure whether I’m covid-free. For now, I’m staying away from co-workers and friends.
As we near the end of our fourth year of pandemic living, we all want to be done with covid. But covid is not done with us.
As my colleague Fenit Nirappil reported, the United States is experiencing a bump in coronavirus transmission for the first time since the public health emergency ended in May. But we are navigating this latest surge more or less on our own. There are no more free tests from the government, and many insurers aren’t reimbursing for them. (I discovered my stashed tests had all expired.) Many offices have stopped testing employees, and monitoring by local, state and federal health agencies is a fraction of what it used to be.
Fortunately, The Washington Post health team has a lot of great advice for you, not only about covid but also about other respiratory illnesses that will be circulating in the fall. We’re offering free access to these stories to help you stay informed and healthy as covid likely ticks up over the coming weeks.
Personally, my hope is to dodge covid this week as my daughter recovers. Then I’ll get the new booster shot when it becomes available, as well as a flu shot. I also plan to mask up on buses and avoid crowded places during respiratory virus season. I would rather not get the coronavirus or any other virus this winter if I can avoid it. Each of us has a different risk tolerance, and we all will make our own decisions about which precautions to take and what to worry about.
Take your dog on a playdate
Social interaction is good for human health, and a new study suggests it might be good for your dog, too, writes Marlene Cimons.
The research surveyed the human parents of more than 21,000 dogs and found that social companionship — with both people and other animals — had the largest influence on healthier aging among dogs. The effect was five times greater than anything else they looked at, such as family finances, household children or the pet parent’s age.
As someone who just adopted a dog in May, I can attest to the positive effect such a pet can have on daily life. Not only is my dog, Sugar, great company, she’s a great conversation starter in the elevator and while I’m walking in my neighborhood. Now I’m going to prioritize making sure she’s getting the full social benefits of living with me.
What’s that stuff in my belly button?
This week, a reader asks about belly buttons, and you’ll be surprised how much scientific effort has been devoted to this topic. Learn about belly buttons with lint and those without, why the buttons on hairy bellies are different than the hairless and the microorganisms found in umbilical “dirt.”
To learn more, read our latest Ask a Doctor column. Our columnist is Trisha S. Pasricha, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. And she’s ready to answer your questions! Use our Ask a Doctor form to submit a question, and we may answer it in a future column.
Please let us know how we are doing. Email me at [email protected].